Boris Johnson’s hardline stance not to waive the £400 NHS surcharge for overseas health and social care workers combating coronavirus was described as ‘mean-spirited and shabby’ today (Thursday 21 May) by Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union.
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said the hypocrisy of the prime minister was given extra piquancy as he singled out two non-UK nurses – one from New Zealand and the other from Portugal – for praise after he survived his fight with Covid-19.
The NHS fee of £400-a-year for care workers applies to those from outside the European Economic Area, regardless whether they use the NHS or not. It is set to rise to £624 in October.
There is also controversy over the £900m figure which the prime minister told MPs is raised by this charge. The Institute of Fiscal Studies put the sum at a tenth of that – £90 million.
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “Of all people, Boris Johnson should appreciate the wonderful and dedicated work of NHS health and social care professions, including the two non-UK nurses he singled out for particular praise in his fight for survival against coronavirus.
“Therefore, the fact he won’t waive this £400 fee for overseas health and social care workers is mean-spirited and shabby.
“With this prime minister warm words of praise come cheap, but a small financial gesture for NHS migrant workers, many of them low-paid, is beyond his compass. His stance is hypocritical.
“Tonight, we will have the Thursday ‘clap for carers by the people of the UK, many of them who voted for Boris Johnson as recently as last December – there is a big irony here. This charge should be waived immediate.”:
Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.